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Author Topic: Package Bee Losses 2012  (Read 777 times)
Elbill
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« on: March 26, 2013, 10:10:11 AM »

I would just like to share this information we discussed at the Smoky Mountain BK Assoc meeting. As a group we ordered 25 3# packages w/queens and received them in late April. 16 hives did not make it to winter and most had the same issues. Mid Jul people started noticing queen failure, poor brood patterns and weak hives in general. I had one hive that I inspected 3 weeks earlier that I mistakenly closed up before seeing brood because I saw a healthy queen crossing the top bar. That hive swarmed while I was in the garden but the swarm returned in a hour. I found the queen on the ground and inserted her back in the hive ( dumb). Next morning I went into the hive to look for queen cells/ brood and found no bees, no queen cells and no brood. Several other people reported the same thing later. No hive beetles , ants or other things that would make them leave. Maybe the cool spring did not permit proper mating. I had have used this apiary for 10 years with good results and would use them again but was curious if people elsewhere have noticed this?
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BMAC
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« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2013, 12:15:46 PM »

Not that I have knowledge of how packages from last spring did, but I think this is a fine argument of getting NUCs vice packages.  Some folks argue that NUCs can spread disease, and while this is true if the beekeeper isnt prudent against disease, atleast you can see what kind of queen she is before you buy it.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2013, 03:47:31 PM »

Package queens have been in steady decline for the last two decades.  It's down to about 4 out of 5 that will stay put, with one out of five moving next door to a better queen.  That's a 20% loss right off the bat... I think some of the queens are not mated at all...
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Michael Bush
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jmblakeney
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« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2013, 04:18:34 PM »

I bought one package in '11 and one in '12.  Both packages were dead by Fall each year.  I ended up having 10 hives by fall last year from cutouts and swarm calls. 
No more packages for me.  From now on its local bees only.  No since in throwing $100 dollars away every year.

James
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CBEE
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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2013, 04:23:40 PM »

So , that beggs the question of who has the best bees and queens to buy as packages or queens to make splits ? I may want a package or 2 myself even though its a little late for ordering. The other question is why the decline ?
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JackM
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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2013, 07:42:04 PM »

Bought 2 packages and one nuc last year, the only survivor is the nuc.  The packages had a bad queen in one and the other died during the winter with a hive full of honey.  Nuc is going strong
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Elbill
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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2013, 09:40:16 PM »

I wish I knew the reasons but the Queen is the answer. Maybe we have gone too far in trying to capture the best traits, maybe with all the CCS going on the bee producers are just flat out trying to supply all the packages they can and the system of producing queens and then mating them and stuffing them in a box is the wrong method. I am going to expand with nucs and splits and try to requeen at first sign of problems. It is very discouraging because I enjoy keeping bees and lately spend more money than I should. If I cannot get my hives in better order then I must think about stopping. huh
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Georgia Boy
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« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2013, 12:02:01 AM »

Hey Elbill,

"Never give up. Never surrender."

David
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Elbill
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« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2013, 08:18:56 AM »

Thanks for the boost. I was just whining- I would not stop keeping bees, I learn something every time I go in a hive and see things that I haven't seen before, meet great people and share a common bond.
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BMAC
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« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2013, 08:21:10 AM »

So , that beggs the question of who has the best bees and queens to buy as packages or queens to make splits ? I may want a package or 2 myself even though its a little late for ordering. The other question is why the decline ?
Package producers produce thousands of packages every year.  Its common they use mini mating NUCs to mate the queens and generally they only leave them in there just long enough to mate.  So many times they are NOT well mated, somtimes not mated at all.  Other issues is how many drones are available in the area for the number of mating NUCs.  Personally I like to have 30 vigorous parent colonies when I set my splits out and only have around 150 splits per yard.  I feel that should supply ample drones for mating my virgins.

So I personally talked with Fred Rossman not so long ago and he has abandoned the use of mini mating NUCs because of hive beetle concerns.  Now he only uses 5 frame NUCs for mating his queens.  So if you were to ask who has the best?  Who really knows who is selling the best packages available.  However if I was inclined to buy packages, I would feel comfortable to buy from Fred or from someone who is reselling Fred's packages as he is using the 5 frame NUCs for mating NUCs.  However you can talk to your reseller and find out where they get the packages from and call the producer directly and ask all the questions and concerns you have so you can make the best decision possible prior to buying a package.
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BMAC
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« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2013, 08:24:39 AM »

Thanks for the boost. I was just whining- I would not stop keeping bees, I learn something every time I go in a hive and see things that I haven't seen before, meet great people and share a common bond.

I think you are your club will be more satisfied with going the NUC direction.  Also dont forget to do your mite treatments on schedule.  Many commercial operators are starting to treat in spring and fall now.  Once of year methodology isn't cutting it anymore with the migratory habits, as the queens dont shut down much for them.
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Joe D
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« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2013, 08:37:56 AM »

I have never bought a nuc or package, but if the Queen is the problem can you buy a package and get a local Queen or a Queen from another source.  I started with 3 hives and have caught swarms, replace some of the Queens with ones from a local beek.  Good luck with your bees




Joe
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D Semple
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« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2013, 08:51:05 AM »

If your in an area with a feral population it's very easy to catch swarms and it's silly to ever buy bees.

And even if you catch a swarm from another beekeeper you at least you know the queen was good enough to throw off a swarm.

Thanks to videos showing us how from JP, schawee, Scott & Peg, iddee, and some others I've got over 40 hives in two years time and have never bought a bee and have in fact made money on bees from day 0. Probably owe them all a vacation.


Don
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CBEE
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« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2013, 12:15:57 PM »

Reason I asked is because not everybody lives in a place that has a good ferral bee population and need to buy bees. Ferral bee populations vary from year to year and it's nice to know where you can get a quality queen in an emergency
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Elbill
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« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2013, 04:11:39 PM »

Thanks for the info BMAC. This is one of the points that has been brought up about queen behavior- great brood patterns at the start only to fail while looking perfectly healthy.It is good to know Rossman has stopped mini nuc production, hopefully others will also. I helped several people setting up their nucs and they had the same problem with the queen last year. Had I/we checked our bees more often we would have caught the problem however I do not like to disturb them too often- I think I need to do that more in the coming year.
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BMAC
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« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2013, 08:31:46 PM »

Its always good to check everything every couple of weeks.  Alot can happen in that time.  Generally I really only check thoroughly my colonies that are not producing honey.  If they are packing it in, I dont bother them.  If they are border line needing or not needing a super when others are packing it in I investigate thoroughly.
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